Thursday, December 31, 2009

Loving and hating Manila

Manila is a great shock for Steven and our bodies. It is very crowded and dirty. I currently have throat problems and that is probably because of the soot and other chemicals from the vehicles.

There are so many great things about Manila though and they are mainly the malls. They stay open til 10 PM whereas in Adelaide, the malls shut at 5 PM. Cinemahouses in Manila are far better and cheaper and the gyms are a lot better-maintained.

But the best part is my family. They really like Steven and vice versa. I think my family is happy that I have a very solid relationship with a great man.

I have taken a photo and a video of us Makati, one of the several business districts in Metropolitan Manila.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Night in Singapore

After a long flight, Steven and I were presented the technology and comfort that a rich city like Singapore can offer. We played with XBox games, surfed online, enjoyed mechanical foot massages and experimented with the food.

We should have been braver and explored what was outside of the airport but we did not. We will do this next time that we have an overnight stay in the middle of the city.

Steven's First International Flight

Last week, Steven travelled outside of Australia for the very first time. We planned to spend Christmas with my family and our Canberra friend Peter.

Steven was afraid of his very first plane ride but he was not really as nervous as he expected.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 Christmas Wishes

I am too old and too heavy to sit on Santa Claus' lap. I am not even sure if my letter would reach him because Australia Post employees are currently staging a strike.

So I will make a wish here on my blog, hoping that all the pixels will line up for these aspirations to come true.

I wish it will not take a long time for me to be registered as a teacher in South Australia. I wish I will be able to start teaching very soon so I can better contribute to the home that Steven and I are planning to build for ourselves.

I wish my partner, myself, and our families will stay healthy because it sucks to be living so far from the people we love. And I wish that our friends will still keep in touch.

I wish we will not lose our ability to appreciate the blessings that we have received. Though I may not be as financially well-off as before, I am definitely the happiest I have ever been.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Counting the nights

The last time I visited Manila, I was not really excited. I even dreaded it. This time is different--I can barely sleep as I imagine what Steven and I are going to do in Manila. A very close friend of mine, Peter, is going to join us as well.

I used to pack on the last night or the last day because I was only thinking of myself. Since Steven is going to fly with me, I have to be concerned of his needs as well. I have bent some of my rules because I have to. I want him to be as comfortable as possible as he is nervous of flying.

It will be his first time to go overseas. It will be his first time to visit places where English is not the first language choice. It will also be the first time to spend Christmas without his family. I am sure this will be overwhelming for him.

I am not sure how often I will be able to update this space but I will definitely post everything that will happen. So watch out!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Concert in Adelaide

It is exciting to be free from studies. Steven and I are graduating from our courses very soon so we are letting our hair down. We met Erwin, Rob and Thanh to show our vocal chords to the Friday crowd in Adelaide's CBD.

Here are videos of Steven and Erwin singing Mack the Knife and myself singing a Spice Girl song. Thanks to all of the guys and girls who danced with me. I hope I can see you guys again for another showdown.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Picnic in the Park 2009

Steven does not like big crowds. This is why I have to force him to attend the Picnic in the Park in Adelaide. Sometimes, fate is tricky and that is why Steven won a dinner voucher for a top restaurant in the city.

There is nothing new to show so I am just posting a photo of us sitting on the grass. It is always good to show affection in public without being judged for it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thin again - Danton Remoto

(Danton Remoto is a gay senatorial candidate in the Philippines. I admire him for his contributions to the gay movement but this time, he is showing a very vulnerable side of him. Click here to read the original article.)

People who haven’t seen me in the past month noticed I had lost weight. Something like five pounds. Excitement like electric current in their voices, they asked: “How did you lose weight? Share naman your secret with us.”

Well, it’s a “secret” I would not wish on anybody, even my enemies. You see, my father – a retired soldier in the Philippine Air Force – died last October 18 at the age of 76. And exactly a month later, my mother – a retired Music teacher – died at the age of 77. Losing a father after seeing him struggle to live in the intensive care unit with, in his own words, “ a sack of rice crushing my chest,” was traumatic enough. Losing both is beyond words.

I could not eat for two days after Father died. My main worry then was how to tell Mother, who had just undergone angioplasty and was undergoing dialysis three times a day – that Father had gone ahead. It was the most sleepless night of my life. And so the morning after, when Mother asked us why we left Father alone in the hospital, my sister, my cousin and I formed a tight circle around Mother lying on her sickbed. The words choked in our throat, but we managed to inform her, slowly, that Father had passed away.

A trickle of tear ran down her face. Sadness shrouded her eyes. It was a sadness that would never leave her. Not during the funeral wake, when she came in her wheelchair, dignified and calm, asking only to see Father and uttering his name in her broken voice. It was a sadness that would never leave her. Not during the vigil, when a succession of Philippine Air Force soldiers in light blue uniforms stood in attention before my father, in his casket draped with the Philippine flag. It was a sadness that would never leave her, after the soldiers fired their 21-gun salute in the memorial park, and my siblings and I finally erupted into the tears that we had kept in our hearts for many days and nights.

I resigned from my job, to take care of her and to prepare for the coming elections. But stayed at home I did, especially when she was more sick than usual, making sure she had all her medicines, was cared for, and comfortable. We went to a nephrologist for her check-up, and her health was beginning to improve: her skin was no longer as pale as paper, and she was gaining some weight.

When my mother was in her sickbed I would sometimes think of my father, and my memories of him revolve around him telling us to be brave, never to run away from a good fight. My father sent himself to college when already a soldier with a young family, commuting 30 kilometers every day to night school, and back. Later, he sent himself to law school, taking the same route for another four years. One of my deepest memories of him is graduating from law school, and the whole family taking a dusty ride home, and finally entering the military base, walking under the sheer brilliance of the stars.

Two days before Mother died, she wanted to stop taking her medicines. My cousin and I would cajole her, brush her forehead with our hands, whisper in her ears. I think she didn’t want us to worry, and took the medicines. But the sadness never left her eyes.

Two days before Mother died, the orchids she had tended with uncommon care bloomed – yellow and lavender and white – their petals like clearest skin. Two days before she died she waved to me and I went to her and I hugged her, kissing her face and her now-bony hands.

The night she died she told my cousin she was already OK, we should not worry anymore, and she gave one of her rings to my sister with Down’s syndrome. She said it was time to sleep so everybody could rest, and from that deep repose she never woke up again.

Now I walk around the city with nothingness in my chest. To lose one parent is devastating. To lose both within a month of each other is beyond words. I try to be brave for my brother and sisters, and for my adopted daughter. In my mind I remember my parents, outside my Grade Six classroom. Under the green translucence of leaves, Father was trying to reach for a star-apple fruit. The fruit was ripened by the sun, and he gave it to Mother. My classmates nudged me, and I felt embarrassed by it all, but that was how Father was toward Mother – always protective, a warm hand around her shoulder. And now they are together, enjoying the fruits of paradise, like the soul mates that I think they are. It’s a thought that lessens, somewhat, the pain lacerating our hearts.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Finished with Uni

I am finished writing all of my uni essays! I am done! I am done!

Hopefully, I will receive an email in a few weeks saying that I will be able to graduate this December. But then there is a lockdown between the UniSA's management and their labor union. But that is another story.

Anyway, Steven and I was able to go back to Nuri together and it was really exciting. We have not spent the weekend for a very long time. The road to Barossa Valley was long and challenging as the wind was strong and the raindrops big.

I will be able to write entries more regularly now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Like It Is (play)

"Like It Is" is another multi-media presentation included in Adelaide's Feast Festival. Like "Journeys Made", this is also directed by Daniel Clarke and was staged at the Bakehouse Theatre.

I was shocked when I saw drinks were allowed inside the performance venue. I am not talking about water or softdrinks--I am talking about wine and beer. I did get used to it before the performance started.

As the audience were finding their seats, actors were walking around and taking thumbprints of many people, measuring, and oggling. I was very close to the stage and I was the only Asian there so I was a huge target (and yes, I am getting fat!).

The piece includes video clips of Adelaide people talking about the gay lifestyle, gay marriages, coming out and other aspects of gay life. The six young performers also talked about personal accounts of possibly their lives. Sometimes, it is easy to feel the nerves of the actors but most of the time, they seem to be enjoying it. I expected stronger emotions though but I guess they are just nervous.

The material in general is very entertaining but neither informative nor thought-provoking. One great part of this piece is it is very local. It does not pretend to be universal. It merely depicts the gay life/lives in Adelaide.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Journeys Made

I am so glad that I took a chance to answer an ad a fellow Filipino sent me. A few months ago, an Adelaide-based artist Daniel Clarke was looking for gay migrants to share their stories so that they will be a part of a sound installation piece that he collaborated with Jason Sweeney and Nicola Connor.

Journeys Made is one of the several events featured in Adelaide's Feast Festival. It was started by the parade and a huge picnic will close it.

A week ago, Steven and I went to the first unveiling of the 40-minute piece in Port Adelaide. It was a very beautiful collage of private thoughts from different people and I am sure it will appeal to all gays and lesbians.

Anyway, I won't say more because I am part of it.

here for the official Feast website.

here for a review.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Adelaide's Pride March 2009

I was not able to attend last year's pride parade but this year, I made sure I was going to be part of it. I took a break from my studies and joined the crowd in Rundle Park with a few friends. Unfortunately, Steven was not there to join the event.

The turn out was humble but it was still fun. Compared to Sydney, most of the participants are sober and more family-oriented. Some brought their dogs. Several families had their kids with them. Some straight people also joined in.

I had to return to the library so I skipped the party but Steven and I will attend the Picnic in the Park.

It was a joyous event so I do not know why I did not see this on the news.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pacquiao wins another world record

A friend told me about this win last night because I had been busy doing household chores. I was very ecstatic: this Filipino won 7 world titles on 7 weight classes!

I admit that I was doubtful that Manny Pacquiao was going to win because he started a bit late in his training. Perhaps, it was a tactic to think Puerto Rico's Cotto was going to win. Well, that tactic really worked!

Pacquiao's win is all over the news even on mainstream Australian media. I just wish that US and Australian media would pronounce his name right though. It is a world record and I thought that they would spend some time ringing a Filipino for the correct pronunciation.

Anyway, back to Pacquiao--he is reportedly going to fight Floyd Mayweather. Is he good enough to make another world record?

Friday, November 13, 2009

COMELEC: the new Filipino Church

On the 11th November 2009, Commission on Elections rejected the application of Ang Ladlad, a gay political group in the Philippines, for the coming elections due to moral grounds.

This highly respected church in the Philippines is headed by Cardinals Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph. They also believe that the website is written by God himself and Ang Ladlad does not conform to the teachings of this website.

COMELEC has also said that Ang Ladlad poses a risk to Filipino youth but this should not be considered condemnation of the LGBT community.

Let's just pray that our beloved COMELEC will continue saving the Philippines from all immoral politicians.

Click here to read the newspaper article.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Having a break at Morialta Park

It is the middle of spring here in Australia but it has been scorching hot. Steven and I are not complaining though because we love this weather. I feel like I can do more things when there are longer days and I can move about without carrying heavy clothing.

Last Sunday, Steven and I visited Morialta Park and it was our second time. It was so hot that we did not see anyone for most of our walk. We love listening to the water falling from steep cliffs, birds calling each other and tiny lizards running away from us.

On the way, we sat down by a stream and I just enjoyed the water. Steven was a magnet to insects so I took photos of them.

This is a needed break from my studies. I just need to survive this month and I will feel much much better about myself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Manny Pacquiao On Time Magazine Cover

I am very nervous about his next week's fight with Cotto. He has been too confident lately--training for a shorter period than expected. I just hope he wins this fight or it will be very embarassing for him and the country.

I wonder if there is a way for me to watch this live in South Australia.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our first

Last year, I moved to Australia and met a wonderful person and we have never been apart ever since. We are so different from each other: he likes cars and I prefer public transportation, he likes to be unnoticed and I love being the center of attention. And yet here we are doing something we enjoy--pigging out!

We spent this special night at Charlie's Diner where we stuffed ourselves to the limit. The last time we were here in July, I threw up in the car park. I have already learned when to stop.

Gym--here we come!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fear of a Foreign Migrant (update 1)

I have been bottling this feeling for quite a while and I cannot ignore it anymore. I feel I have to let it out but try to be as fair as possible.

It seems it is beyond people's treatment of me when I am in public places. It is beyond the look that I do not speak English well or that I do not understand the culture.

I am quite scared of the violent attacks against foreign migrants here. Some of these incidents are even resulting to deaths. A few weeks ago, a Filipino got killed and when people tried stopping him he shouted, "He is a Jap--he deserves it!" I have noticed that many of the news agencies are trying to downplay these incidents so that the latter do not appear hate-related. They say that the culprit was merely drunk.

This morning, I saw a commercial on a privately-owned channel and this particular show is going to be broadcasted tonight. It says "6 Australians were killed by THE Indonesians...and these MONGRELS don't care". What kind of message do they want to convey to Indonesians living here and Indonesian-Australians? What kind of message do they want to convey to the greater population? It seems this way of thinking is not only personal or isolated but very much institutionalized.

Who is protecting us?

(Update: the show on Indonesians is not tonight but on Sunday, 1st Nov. It is Channel 9's 20 minutes, 7 PM)

Going Digital

Australia is switching to complete digital broadcasting soon. It is getting rid of the analog signal starting next year and that is why there is a scramble for digital set top boxes and a huge demand for digital screens.

For ordinary people, catching this TV signal involves attaching an ordinary antennae to a digital set top box and then connecting this small device to the RF connection at the back of the TV.

Unfortunately, we live in a flat and the landlord has not provided any of the tenants an antennae. We only have this one antenna and we do our best to help it catch the signal. We will probably buy a new antennae.

Ironically, the brand name of our new set top box is Bush.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fish Opera in Port Adelaide

Last week, the Port Festival ended. It was held in Port Adelaide, a suburb closest to ours in Alberton. I was excited because of the distance.

We went there one night to watch the Fish Opera. The promotional materials showed a fantastic laser show projected on water sprays. It looked amazing!

Unfortunately, one can only see the images clearly if he/she is directly in front of the sprayers. It did not work in other angles. Of course, there was a huge crowd so only a handful of people were able to make out what the lights represented. Plus there were a lot of lights from the background and they were distracting. The fireworks display after the laser show actually looked better.

Anyway, it was for free so I should not complain.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Australian Libraries and Bookshops

The first Australian city I visited is Sydney. I wrote about this in a previous entry. I thought I was racist to think that there should be a separate section for "Asian literature in English" in book stores but I am now taking it back.

I confided to an award-winning American writer Alex Sanchez about it and he said having such a section is more of a marketing strategy and not segregation. Obviously, there is no such market yet in Australia.

In addition, I have been looking very hard for Asian books in English here in Adelaide and have found very few selections. Apart from journals, I have never seen a Filipino book here. The absence of such literature here gives the impression that we Filipinos do not write in English.

Ironically, I have found a few Filipino books and Thai-translated Filipino books in Bangkok. Back then, I thought Thailand had the worst literary selections in the world.

Hopefully, in time, Filipino publications will be available here. I wish I would still be alive then.